NNNN Episode #26 With Journalist Matt Berg

Follow Matt on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/mattberg33?s=20

I’ve been sitting on this episode for a while now for no particular reason other than sheer laziness (and reading a couple books in the meantime)  but I’m so excited to finally release this interview with UMass Journalism’s boy wonder- Matt Berg.

Matt has an extremely bright future ahead wherever it takes him but he has already had his work featured for The Boston Globe and UMass Daily Collegian amongst others. It was so awesome to finally get the chance to sit down with him.

I don’t think it will disappoint:

Spotify:

Apple Podcasts:

https://anchor.fm/s/9f00fb0/podcast/rss

Intro song:

Slippery Slope by Yaw Amp

Outro Song:

Demise by Fellz & Cubie

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Hypocrisy Makes Me Laugh

Disclaimer: this is a long piece but I truly think you will get something out of reading it.

This has been one of the most interesting, infuriating, and intellectually stimulating weeks I’ve had in a long time.

Well gee Pat- how did that happen?!

I was sitting in one of my classes last week and I heard about an upcoming event taking place on campus. I honestly didn’t even know what the panel was going to be talking about but I recognized some of the names coming to speak so I figured I’d check it out.

Little did I know I was stepping into a swirling ball of controversy.

Let’s lay out the evidence and then we can assess what to make of it.

Statement from UMass Chancellor Subbaswamy on the BDS Event:

UMASS, Amherst – An event scheduled for Nov. 12 on the UMass Amherst campus focusing on the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divest, Sanction” movement (BDS) is being presented by a private foundation – not by the university.  This private foundation has, as many non-UMass organizations regularly do, rented space on campus to host the upcoming event, which is being billed as a panel discussion on “The Attack on BDS and American Democracy.” Despite our concerns regarding this particular gathering, based on its title and past statements by its panelists, as a public institution UMass is bound by the First Amendment to the Constitution to apply a content-neutral standard when making facilities available to outside organizations. For this reason, and in adherence to the principles of academic freedom, the university will take no steps to inhibit this event.

However, while UMass Amherst is firmly committed to the principles of free speech and academic freedom, the University remains firmly opposed to BDS and to academic boycotts of any kind. Academic boycotts are antithetical to academic freedom and it is ironic that individuals, who rely upon that very freedom to make their case, should advocate for a movement, in BDS, that seeks to suppress it.

It is troubling that such a one-dimensional, polarizing event should take place on our campus. A panel discussion where only one perspective is shared does little to increase the understanding of such a complex topic like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Furthermore, because the BDS position in general fails to acknowledge the humanity on the Israeli side of the conflict and is considered by many as anti-Semitic, the upcoming event could very well alienate many of our Jewish students and other members of our campus community.

Clearly, the divisions among Palestinians and Israelis represent one of the intractable problems of our times, and we acknowledge the suffering that exists on all sides. But if we are going to truly build a community of dignity and respect, we must step outside our own echo-chambers and encourage the free exchange of ideas. And while I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech for all, I also maintain that, as chancellor, I have a duty to be a voice for our campus’s values. And one of those values, which I think is critically important in ensuring a safe and welcoming living-learning community, is inclusion. We remain committed to ensuring an inclusive campus that will continue to prioritize the safety and security of all students. When outside organizations come onto our campus and give a high-profile platform for one-sided and divisive political positions that some view as deeply offensive, they are saying to valued members of our community that they don’t belong.  This is the antithesis of our commitment to inclusion, and we will not hesitate to speak out against efforts to divide our campus community.

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I could easily write this whole piece bashing our Chancellor for making a statement that didn’t need to be made but as someone who has been outspoken against “cancel culture” I don’t think that’d be the right thing to do.

We are all human.

We all make mistakes.

But with that being said, in the spirit of free speech, these are the questions I had after reading what he had to say:

  1. How can a university say they are “firmly committed to the principles of free speech and academic freedom” when they smear and demonize viewpoints just because they aren’t their own?

2. Who considers the rhetoric of BDS to be anti-Semitic? (apparently it is “considered by many”)

3. “A panel discussion where only one perspective is shared does little to increase the understanding of such a complex topic like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

This was my understanding of the conflict before the event:

Do you think a person like me would benefit from hearing another perspective on the issue?

4) “the upcoming event could very well alienate many of our Jewish students and other members of our campus community”

Should we value the feelings of students over the lives at stake in the conflict?

5) “we must step outside our own echo-chambers and encourage the free exchange of ideas.”

Do you see the hypocrisy in telling us to step outside our echo chambers and encourage the free exchange of ideas when our university puts out a statement that literally discourages the free exchange of ideas?

6)  Have you ever heard the quote “never solidarity before criticism”? If so, what does that quote mean to you?

So that’s that; hopefully we’ll get some answers soon enough.

But Pat what about the event itself? Was it anti-Semitic? Was it polarizing and divisive? Did it call for violence? 

Honestly, I feel like Vince Lombardi at this point.

Because I got a lot out of the event.

For starters, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd recorded a video message for the event. It got me thinking about how the celebrities in our culture wield their social power. You don’t see too many artists taking a stand on big societal issues nowadays because they know it’ll hurt their bottom line. It made me so happy to see people like Waters who (for lack of a better word) give a shit.

-I found out that Patriots owner Robert Kraft has pledged $20 million dollars to fight BDS

-I found out that 3 million Palestinians are being occupied by the Israeli Military

-I found out that the United States gives 3 billion dollars to Israel every year (more than all other countries combined)

-I found out that when Duke faced backlash they responded quite differently than UMass 

-I heard about Dan Clawson for the first time. He was a professor who worked in the UMass sociology department for 40 years who unfortunately died last spring. I’m looking forward to reading his work in the near future.

-I thought about the quote “Wanna know who controls you? Look at who you can’t criticize.” then I looked it up and found out it stems from a neo-nazi. Sheesh. Strange how things said by terrible people can still be of use in the fight for good.

-I listened to Linda Sarsour (A.K.A- every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare) bring up the point that the fight against anti-Semitism should be the same as the one for Palestinian freedom.

-I listened to Omar Barghouti who has been banned from the United States by the current administration (he Skyped in- gotta love technology). He said “they try to silence my voice” and brought up a shoot to kill and maim initiative currently happening. I learned that the United Nations found Israeli Defense Forces guilty of crimes against humanity. Omar said “Apartheid in South Africa was a picnic compared to Israel/Palestine”.

-I listened to anti-racism activist Tim Wise say he was a Jew who was incredibly tired of being told what anti-Semitism is. I can’t do his whole talk justice but believe me when I say it was powerful and from the heart. He proposed that we learn to “argue the point instead of shutting it down” (what a concept!)

-I listened to journalist Shaun King who spoke about his background in activism. He referenced incidents of police brutality that cost the lives of:

Philando Castile

Eric Garner

Alton Sterling

He spoke on how harrowing it is to see a man die at the hands of officers and how he has been forced to change his strategy when talking to the families of the victims. He used to assure them that justice would be served but time and time again it was proving not to be true.

He also said that there were four necessary elements for change:

  1. Highly energized people
  2. Deeply organized
  3. Utilizing the skills of the people in the room
  4. Well-funded sophisticated plan

-I listened to founder and director of Palestine Legal and Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Dima Khalidi mention how the Chancellor’s email following an act of hate was considerably shorter than the statement written condemning BDS. Dima also mentioned how frustrating it is to have to worry more about oppressors than the real issues that are happening. Khalidi also spoke about a bill that legislators in Massachusetts tried to pass last year (that is resurfacing this year) that would criminalize opposing Israel.

-I listened to Harvard Professor and philosopher Dr. Cornel West give one of the most electric speaking performances I have ever witnessed in person. He touched on the importance of reading great African American writers like Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and W.E.B Du Bois. He quoted Socrates saying “the unexamined life is not worth living” before adding the historical context that Socrates was hated by many when he was alive for his frank and unintimidated speech. He spoke on how Israel is losing sight of their history of being underdogs and are in some ways turning into oppressors themselves. He posed questions such as “How should integrity face oppression?” and “How do we come to terms with it all?”. He preached on the importance of solidarity amongst human beings and the need for a commitment to others. He made remarks about the moral hypocrisies and spiritual emptiness plaguing us.

Much like our Chancellor- he spoke vehemently against echo chambers.

I highly recommend listening to him more:

Some other miscellaneous quotes and ideas expressed that are worth mentioning:

-The idea of courage stemming from love

-The idea that there’s enough to go around

-The quote “Earn your death” by James Baldwin

-Staying honest when people are dishonest

-Maintaining integrity in the face of oppression

-The quote “You don’t do things so others will join; you do it because they are right” by Tim Wise

-The idea of leaving the world a better place than you found it

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Hopefully you got something out of reading this piece today. I’m not fully educated on all these issues by any stretch. But with that being said, I know enough where I can no longer sit idly by while atrocities take place left and right while nobody even seems to care.

I will wrap up by mentioning one last thing that happened at the event; a triggering.

Some kid sitting directly in front of me dawning a bright “Keep America Great” hat decided to cause a little disturbance about three hours into the event. He was playing music from his phone while members of the panel were trying to speak. It was objectively disrespectful but I’m no snowflake- I just ignored him.

After his little outburst I couldn’t help but laugh at thinking why any rational human being would do something like that.

Then it hit me- a rational human being wouldn’t do something like that.

The crowd began to chant things to drown out his thoughts which I understand but I really would’ve liked to have heard what this political savant had to say.

Because despite the disrespectful nature of this kid’s actions- he briefly broke up the echo chamber (albeit an echo chamber of highly intellectual, well spoken, and well-read individuals).

Going forward I hope to write, talk, and make videos about topics that might be seen as controversial by some. But I’ll never be opposed to hearing the other side and when I say anybody can submit to the site- I mean that.

I think Charles sums up my feelings best:

Image result for we're going to start a dialogue

NNNN

P.S- “Be Revolutionary”

UMass

 

 

 

 

A UMass Football Fan’s State of the Union

By Luke Eggers Twitter/Instagram: @Leggers15 

“Because he’s the voice Amherst deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector-

A minuteman”


Before I begin writing my first article for Mr. LaBelle I would like to clear the air regarding my relationship with UMass Athletics.  I am a lifelong UMass fan hands down no questions asked. Not exactly surprising as both of my parents graduated from here. Although I would say that I am a militia member, I have to use my emotions to react to the good, bad, and ugly of UMass athletics.  I will state the facts and let you decide what’s wrong (or right) with UMass athletics. With that being said, I would like to introduce my first UMass sports commentary:

UMASS WON A FOOTBALL GAME YESTERDAY

The University of Massachusetts Amherst won a football game against the only other FBS football team that might be worse.  In modern sports culture, this is of course known as the “toilet bowl”.

Let’s take a look at UMass football in recent years and see how we got here. 

UMASS football
Yes, this a real picture of an NCAA FBS collegiate football game.  Good to see all 500 people supporting the minutemen. (UMass vs Akron 9/24/19)                                                                                                            –

My goal for this piece is to demonstrate the absolutely preposterous development of UMass football in recent years.  From competing toe to toe with top SEC opponents to losing to FCS schools- UMass football follows no logic or correct order of thinking.  Let’s get something straight, SEC football is BIG time football. These games featured NFL caliber football players who UMass had no business even touching the same grass that these guys were on. 

They were not worthy.

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That being said, UMass seemed to get up for some very specific, very random big-time games. Shall we take a trip down memory lane for diehard UMass football fans?

UMass Amherst VS Tennessee 9/23/17

UMass 13 – 17 Tennessee 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHGbWRk0czU  (highlights) 

TENN.jpgOn this day in history, UMass football waltzed into Neyland Stadium in Knoxville Tennessee and lost a nail biter to the Tennessee Vols in front of 102,455 THOUSAND PEOPLE  (I’d say it’s a bit of a different environment compared to McGuirk stadium). In a game where the UMass defense refused to let up a single point in the first 25 minutes of play, the Minutemen kept it close.  

UMass Amherst VS Mississippi State 11/4/17

UMass 23 – 34 Mississippi State 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y9J4ttzuWU (highlights)

MSU.jpg

Yep, UMass football lost by just 11 points to Mississippi State only TWO years ago.  On a day in which coach Whipple lead the Minuteman charge straight down the teeth of an SEC opponent, the boys were rolling.  Let me remind you that this is the same Mississippi State program that will be playing the best Alabama team of all time later in the season.  On the contrary, this is the same UMass program that went on to play, and lose, to the Old Dominion Monarchs. With Miss. State being a 31 point favorite on the books that day, one might ask “how does this make sense?”.  It makes zero sense and I refuse to credit UMass football for this. I am confident that this game was staged because UMass football is not this good (especially in 2017).  

UMass Amherst VS Florida 9/3/16

UMass 7 – 24 Florida

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEglH8VQrFQ (highlights)

UMass.jpg

At this point, I am finding it difficult to even imagine UMass playing in these games.  In this one, UMass went head to head with the 14th ranked college football team in the entire country.  Like, you have to be kidding me! This game should’ve ended in an absolute bloodbath. Florida by 80! Nope, UMass said not so fast and lost by a little over two scores.  This was a VERY competitive football game.  

Although I have only written about losses thus far, these were impressive given the circumstances.  However, my next game example will blow all of your minds. It is possibly the most ridiculous game result in UMass football history.  And no, it isn’t a competitive November tilt against an SEC opponent. Rather a stunning blowout loss to an FCS football program.  FCS!!!!!????  

UMass Amherst Football VS Southern Illinois (FCS)

UMass 45 – Southern Illinois 20

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKgm9F9Z_iM (highlights)

AAAUM.jpg

Where do I start folks?  Should I rant as a UMass fan or should I calmly reflect on this disaster from the perspective of a UMass sports reporter?  I think I’ll do a little bit of both. Let me remind you of a few components regarding this game. This was the home opener for UMass football.  Considering the current state of the Minutemen football program, this was possibly the biggest game of the year for them because when students go to the first game for the sake of going to the first game, you better win or else NOBODY will be stumbling in from the tailgate next week.  It’s pretty apparent that the athletic department wanted to schedule a sure-fire win for the boys.

Not exactly how it ended up.

As I reflect upon the game, I would reckon that this was the worst possible outcome for UMass football. I think that the militia and myself would’ve rather seen them get blown out at home by a respectable FBS opponent.  At least then we could go to sleep at night. (Wow, this was certainly all rant and little reporting… but I’m ok with that)

All of these game results are here for a reason.  I want UMass fans to be able to grasp what our football program has become.  What would happen if we put the 2019 UMass football team up against Florida this year?  I genuinely would like to see the result of that. Would UMass lose by 200? 300? Maybe they would be the first-ever football team to lose by 1,000 points.  What a sight that would be.  

With that being said, I didn’t forget about the big win yesterday. 

Let’s get into it:

UMass Amherst (0-4) VS Akron (0-4)

UMass 37 – 24 Akron

W

I apologize but this game was such a disaster that I couldn’t even recover a single highlight tape from all of the internet.

AKRON.jpg

The absolute definition of a “toilet bowl”.  This is a familiar term to many of us millennials. However, in our minds, a “toilet bowl” was simply a figure of speech.  Well, I am proud to announce that I have witnessed the true “toilet bowl”.  Yesterday, I watched UMass squeak by the absolute worst team in all of college football.  Literally, the sole purpose of this game was to pronounce one of these two teams as the worst of the worst.  

130th out of 130 teams baby.  

As I sat at the top of an empty UMass student section, I thought of some interesting things.  I would bet that an SEC fan would be interested to witness a game like this. The game was so preposterous and pathetic that a high-end college football fan would probably want to watch it just to see how it looks, feels, and sounds. 

Let me tell you; it doesn’t look good, feel good, or sound good.

It is the most desperate sporting event that you will ever attend. As a student, they funnel you into the stadium from a widespread UMass endorsed party. Next up, you have to use your ID as a ticket (which is free of course).  That’s right, it costs $0 to attend these games. After this, they give you a plate of the best barbecue that you will ever have. You find yourself sitting in the stands with a gourmet meal in front of you. Aside from the game, there’s really not much else to do besides yelling at the Minutemen to stop fucking around and do something productive.  All that I think about after all this fanfare is just how desperate the scene is. Free game, free food, and free t-shirts.

What’s next, free tuition for anyone who comes out to cheer on the maroon and black?  

From close games with the likes of Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Florida, to blowout loses against FCS teams and close wins over the worst team in the league.  If I could describe the entire football program in one word?

Disappointing.

UMass is a big university with PLENTY of school spirit. If you are a student here, odds are you enjoy it and would be more than willing to cheer on a competitive college football team.  Let me point out one very specific man that doesn’t get enough shit. Whatever athletic director is sitting in their comfy UMass branded chair and is responsible for the last five years is SWEATING right about now. Does anyone have an idea of how this person should be punished?  This one person who has been calling the shots for UMass football has caused so many people so much pain and anguish. I want revenge! Throw ’em in the pond!

I have one last thing to discuss.  My friends and I sat directly behind the UMass men’s hockey team for the entire game.  When I say that these kids were shitting on the football team, I am NOT embellishing whatsoever.  These kids were laughing with us the whole game anytime some dumbass UMass safety let up an 80-yard post down the middle of the field.  Thought I had to share this interesting development.

I hope you all enjoyed my first piece for the site.  Let UMass hockey start so I can stop being so cynical and depressed.  Those boys are going to be a WAGON. Till next time…

-Luke Eggers 

UMass Athletics Aficionado

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Pet Peeve; Names

There are a lot of  basic get to know you questions that take place in every college class (barring there’s 300 kids in it). Most people reading this probably understand what I’m talking about; things like “What’s your major?” “What year are you in? “Why are you not clicking, exiting out, and clicking again on every NNNN post?”

You know- things like that.

But there’s one question that I always pay particular attention to:

“What is your name/what do you like to be called?”

It’s a great question to be asked and probably the most important one as well. You would think that people give the slightest care about what they are going to be called for the next 4 months, right? Not always- and it drives me crazy.

In my humblest arrogant opinion, anyone who replies to the question of “What do you prefer to be called?” with “Doesn’t matter” should be treated as such by the whole class:

“What do you like to be called?”

Oh, it doesn’t matter to me- whatever is fine.”

Alright then, shithead it is!”

NNNN

P.S- Go U 😔

NNNN Episode 13 with Yaw and James

Lucky episode #13 has a loaded slate featuring:

-A fantastic interview with Yaw and James about rapping and starting up a clothing brand

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A few good men

 

 

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Album Cover

 

-UMass Hockey roundup

-Bruins/Celtics talk

-Damian Lillard

-NFL Draft

-Brock Hoffman story

Baseball’s unwritten rules

-“Stumble on shows”

-“Half hand raisers”

-“Things We Learned”

Enjoy, lets have ourselves a weekend, and of course don’t forget to leave a 5 star review:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/no-names-no-numbers/id1457394246